The poem “ Lamentation of the old Pensioner” by WB Yeats presents the old poet’s memories of his gone youthful days. He remembers his dynamic and energetic youth age and contrasts it with present state of weak and worn out old age. In doing so he brings out the destructive power of time.
The poem opens with the description of his present miserable condition and suffering as an old man. He compares himself with a broken tree, who takes shelter under a broken tree. In the next four lines, the speaker moves to the past. He says that he used to sit on his chair near the fire in the company of his friends talking about love and politics. This was the time of his youth, the time before he was transfigured by time.
In the next stanza he describes how the young man are making weapons to fight some human enemies. But the speaker is indifferent to this because his enemy is the destructive power of time which can’t be fought with any kind of weapon.
Finally, the poet reaches to some sort of self-satisfaction. Even though no woman turns her face towards him at present he remembered the memory of the beautiful girl whom he had loved in the past. In this way, the poet remembers his young age and cry for time.
Solved questions and answers:
1. What is the poem about?
Ans: The old pensioner laments for the loss of his past beautiful and romantic days. Because of the time, his life has completely changed. He is without power and lover. Nobody loves and take care of him. Even he is neglected by his relatives. So he feels that the old age is very painful. Now he has nothing to enjoy except to lament over what he has already passed. He compares himself with broken tree. As the broken tree fails to provide shade to the people, likewise he is not able to do anything for others.
2. What is the refrain in the poem? What is its purpose?
Ans: Refrain means the repetition of the same line or phrase in a poem or a song. This is a poetic device that most of the poet uses to create special emotions and artistic effect. In this poem “That has transfigured me” is a refrain. The significance of refrain is that it creates seriousness and anger to the readers towards time which suggests that cruel time doesn’t leave anybody.
3. Write a paragraph on An Old Man Remembers.
Ans: The question about what an old man remembers is more philosophical than factual. This question is left up to speculation. Naturally he tends to be nostalgic, thinking about the glorious days of his past. The pleasant memories and also painful experiences of the previous day are likely to haunt his imagination. He may begin recollecting his childhood in the presence of his loving parents. He cannot help remembering the innocent look he had as a boy and the simple way of thinking. After that, his reminiscences may take him to his youth when he used to be strong, energetic and full of ambition. He remembers how as a young man he passed his time day dreaming in certain occasions. At this instance, his memory drives him towards the romantic scenes of his life and warm emotions he had as a man of romantic heart. These days make him sigh and wonder about the mysteries of life and creation. While dragging himself through the vistas of his life, he may feel suffocated to remember the deaths of his mother, father and near as well as dear ones. However, he never stops remembering the good olden days because they are the only golden experiences left with him. They can be the only refuge left for him to seek while escaping from the bitter present.
4. Write an essay on Youth and Age.
It is a universal truth that every man is bound to pass through the stages of childhood, youth and the last stage. In one of the dramas of Shakespeare, namely ” As You Like It”, the dramatist presents the world as a stage with the man and woman as players performing seven parts beginning from the stage of infancy. According to him, the stage of the youth is passed while leaving long sights and writing poems over the beauty of the beloved. On the contrary, the man spends his old age in a pathetic way. At this time, his physical appearance undergoes a drastic change. His face is covered with wrinkles and his mainly voice turns into a shrill sound. He looks no better than a pantaloons with hollow cheeks. The last stage is second childhood and the person at this stage is deprived of all the qualities and power over the senses.
Generally we divide our lives into three stages: childhood, youth and old age. The childhood is passed in ignorance and innocence whereas the youth is passed in follies. A young man is found to be comparatively more energetic and passionate. at this stage, he is guided more by emotion rather than by reason. Owing to this reason, he is apt to commit number of mistakes and repent in later period. It is the delicate and sensitive period when anything is likely to happen in his life. His rash behavior may lead him out of the right track into the corrupt world. In such a case, his activities tend to be destructive and the elderly people consider them with disapproval. At the initial part of his youth, he is more attracted towards the opposite sex. As a result he may not be in a position to concentrate on the creative activities. If the young people are not properly guided at this stage, they are bound to face the dark future. On the contrary, if the proper guidance is given to them, they emerge as the successful candidates with the better future.
The old age is the antonym of the youth. At this stage, a person is found to be packed with wisdom and experiences. He is guided more by reason than by emotion. Although he finds himself physically weak, he is certain of his mental strength. His maturity and prudence guide him across the obstacles. Because of his precaution, he leads himself and his family members towards the right direction. However, as he grows in age, he is likely to be eccentric due to his sensitive way of thinking. His physical appearance undergoes a drastic change. The wrinkled face and trembling hands and legs with stooped body make him look pathetic and miserable. One can read the signs of death all around him. He becomes a stranger in his own house because his children and grandchildren think of him as a killjoy. Every moment in his life is filled with the thoughts of humiliation. Owing to his weakness, he suffers from different diseases and he is bound to depend on the mercy of his kith and kin. Thus he lives and thus he dies. His death brings a sigh of relief to his relatives.